Jordan Crawford is going to go down as the story of this game, in no small part because of Gus Johnson's breathless call of his game-tying three, but let's talk about Terrell Holloway for a moment.
Only Denis Clemente's 48 minutes eclipsed the 47 the Holloway put on the floor, compiling a line of 26/4/6 on 6-14/4-6/10-13 shooting. If Xavier had pulled it out, his would go down as one of the great tournament performances of all time. With Xavier circling the drain in regulation, he not only lured Kansas State into a shooting foul at half court, but he also bloodlessly jarred all three FT to tie the game. Then he walked into and nailed a couple of really big threes in overtime to keep Xavier in it. Holloway's play throughout the game - and especially at crunch time - was that of a man who craves the big occasion.
So was Crawford's, of course. He was only 3-12 from deep, but I guarantee you remember all three of them: the bomb off of Tu's assist to cut the game to one with 5:58 left in regulation. The tip-toe shot from the corner where it seemed like he never really set his body, just flowing from catch to release to running the other way, giving Xavier the lead with 2:20 to go. Then the one everyone will remember, putting in the down payment on a pool for Gus Johnson's cardiologist from the ribbon to tie the game in overtime. His final line was 32/2/2 on 13-29/3-12/3-4 shooting. If he lacked just a hair of his usual efficiency, he almost made up for it in clutch play.
Speaking of players who were inefficient but clutch, Jason Love shot only 5-13/0-0/1-2, but he owned the glass. The 15 rebounds he pulled down were equal to the total of the game's next two highest rebounders combined. The length of Kansas State's front line clearly bothered him - he had five shots blocked - but he never stopped battling for position on either end, and it was his clutch rebound and stick back in regulation that set the stage for Tu's 3-3 from the line. Xavier is going to miss the big man, who goes out as the winningest player in the program's history.
It will be a while before I can parse out how I feel about this Kansas State backcourt. On the one hand, they killed the Muskies to the tune of 53/9/8 with just 2 turnovers on 19-44/8-18/7-7 shooting in a combined 88 minutes, which obviously breeds in me a bit of resentment. On the other hand, that is one of the great performances in a winning effort that you're ever likely to see. Every time Kansas State needed them, one or the other would pull their team back into the game. They both made big plays the whole way, but Jacob Pullen's three with 35 seconds left on the clock in the second overtime was the kill shot.
In the end, a Xavier team that got just 47 meaningful bench minutes ran out of defensive legs. Kansas State shot 4-5/0-0/7-9 in the first OT and 4-7/2-3/4-6 in the second OT, and two of their four misses were answered with offensive rebounds. Xavier forced just two turnovers in the ten extra minutes. Where the rubber met the road, the Musketeers never stopped making plays on the offensive end, but they weren't able to disrupt Kansas State's scoring efficiency, and that made the difference in one of the best basketball games you're ever likely to see.
Odds and ends:
-Despite Jamel McLean, Jason Love, and Andrew Taylor combining for 13 fouls between them, Kenny Frease grabbed just 5 minutes and was a TO away from a trillion.
-Xavier's 16 turnovers to only 12 by K-State didn't help the cause.
-Kansas State blocked 11 shots, half of which were not attempted by Jason Love.
-Kansas State reserve forward Jamar Samuels outscored Xavier's bench, equaled it in assists, and came up just one rebound shy of being level there, too.
-Mark Lyons managed to pick up four fouls in 11 minutes.